Whilst the weather hasn’t been the best so far with gale force winds and driving rain, we have had a delightful few days so far on Malta. We arrived on Sunday morning (having got up at 4am) and were greeted with warm sunshine. Peter, our caretaker, had done a fabulous job servicing all the winches and cleaning the teak. Another couple of jobs off the list. We were tired from our early start so we mooched around Ta’Xbiex trying to find a supermarket open on a Sunday afternoon. The main one was shut but we found a small deli that had all we needed. Then back to the boat to sort ourselves out and get some chores done. We decided to eat out locally but quite a few restaurants were shut so we ended up at one called Irrerra. It was okay but probably more of a lunch time spot although there were quite a few locals in there.
Monday morning was spent putting up a new slide roller in the aft cabin as ours was fast disintegrating and was hopeless at keeping the mosquitoes out without a net on the outside. This one seems to be pretty good but only time will tell! We then went into Valletta on the bus (still a bargain at €1.50 each for an all day ticket) to play the tourist. We walked down Republic St to the Co-cathedral of St John.
This part of Malta has two cathedrals as there was already one in Birgu (opposite Valletta across Grand Harbour) but the pope granted Valletta another cathedral when Valletta was built in the 16th century after the Great Seige. It was named after the Knights patron saint. It is quite austere on the outside but an amazing example of baroque architecture on the inside with ornate frescoes, gold fascia and amazing paintings. Caravaggio’s painting of the beheadings of St John holds pride of place along with a number of other paintings from that time. Quite breathtaking.
From there we went to the Upper Barrakka Gardens to look out across Grand Harbour and await the 4pm gun. The guns are fired twice daily with the midday guns originally established so that naval ships could set their chronometers.
After that, we took a bus to the three cities across Grand Harbour and stopped in Birgu where there is an impressive marina, aptly named Grand Harbour. We walked along the harbour quay looking at the large motor yachts. They wouldn’t be able to sail them with just two people, that’s for sure! After a warming drink in a local bar, we had dinner in a delightful restaurant in the main square. Then a bus back to Valletta and another bus back to the marina – still using our day ticket! Great day out.